Volunteer’s Week – 2019
Helen Webster, Head of Charity Law, Volunteering and Engagement in the Scottish Government, kicks off the Third Sector Unit’s new blog with some thoughts on volunteering as we celebrate Volunteers’ Week 2019.
‘Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world’
Roald Dahl, Matilda
Where better to start a conversation with the voluntary sector than with volunteering itself. This year’s Volunteers’ Week theme is ‘Time to Celebrate’ – and celebrate we most certainly should.
More than a million people across Scotland give their time in communities across Scotland every day. A world without volunteers would be poorer in every way. There would be vastly less additional help in hospitals. Charities would be without trustees. No extra sports coaching or refereeing. Activities to support people to enjoy their independence would be dramatically reduced, as would support for older, isolated people, vulnerable families and those leaving care. The list is endless.
We would be poorer in other ways too. There are days when I find it hard to catch my breath, staggered by injustice and intolerance and frightened for the future we are creating for my child and for all of our children.
And yet. With Dahl’s child-like wonder, I still find the kind hearted and the brave. I find strength in the refugees I stand beside as they give their time to help others who, like them, have almost nothing. I find courage in the young carer who addresses me across a room of strangers and tells them that volunteering saved her life. I find hope in the volunteer patient advisor who picks up the pieces when the consultant leaves the room.
So as I take time this week to recognise all that volunteering gives I will be remembering that doing so is not just about donning your party pants and having a good time. Celebrating – like volunteering itself – is a choice. A decision to think about our actions and recognise their meaning. Our National Volunteering Framework – Volunteering for All – sets the direction for Scotland’s approach to volunteering by focusing first and foremost on the volunteer, rooted in our national values of kindness, dignity and respect.
It asks all of us to consider our own role in making that change a reality and bringing the principles and outcomes to life. Scotland’s voluntary sector is rich, diverse and, like all of us, facing unprecedented change and challenge. It is also built on those same values of fairness and equality for all. So this Volunteers’ Week, celebrate the people who listen, who seek out the voices traditionally not heard. If you are a volunteer and already know that what you do this week is important as every other, then take quiet pride in the change you make happen. And celebrate those who aren’t afraid if they don’t hold all the answers in their own hands.
Just don’t forget to wear your party pants.